Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

During the war, the Duchy grew increasingly committed to food production. At Home Farm, near Stoke Climsland in the Tamar Valley, the prize-winning Shorthorn cattle were looked after by a celebrity under-herdsman: novelist Charlotte Matheson. 

In her time Charlotte was a well-known writer, with novels including A Generation Between (1915) and Children of the Desolate (1916). Nature and the countryside are themes in all her books, so perhaps it was natural that she joined the Women's Land Service Corps, forerunner of the Women's Land Army. 

During 1917 the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, always looking for a rural viewpoint on war stories, featured Home Farm. Photographs showed Charlotte feeding the pigs, milking the cows and taking the prize bull for his daily walk. The Times too ran a piece on her, commenting that she took 'a share in all kinds of work, heavy and light.'

Although renowned for its livestock, the farm's food-producing credentials were emphasised by the press. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News reported that of the 400 acres of cultivated land, around a quarter was under corn, 'while potatoes are also being exploited in accordance with the Board of Agriculture's plea.'

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

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